World T20: Want some Australian respect? First you must beat them
PLUS: Another bumper edition of The Week That Was and The Weekend That Will Be
You do not have to look far for the low point in the almost spotless Kane Williamson-Gary Stead cricketing free love era.
A little more than 2000km to the left in fact.
It was the third test of a wretched series on the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground. A dead rubber, yes, but this was no honourable death.
Kane Williamson was sick and didn’t play. Tim Southee was dropped and didn’t play. Trent Boult was elsewhere.
New Zealand went into the test with Colin de Grandhomme taking the new ball and two frontliners - Matt Henry and Todd Astle - with test bowling averages hovering around 50 and another, Will Somerville, with just three tests to his name.
Jeet Raval batted first drop, Glenn Phillips made his first and thus far only test appearance at No5. Tom Blundell was near the start of his brief specialist opener phase.
The result was predictable. Marnus Labuschagne ferreted his way to a double ton as Australia took a 198-run first innings lead. They declared their second dig at 217-2 (David Warner 111 not out) and set the visitors a generous 416 to win. New Zealand fell short by just 279 runs, the top six mustering 56 between them in the “chase”.
The team returned home to damning reviews: the players folded like a sheet of origami paper; Gary Stead had rocks in his head.
(Insert weird voiceover in the style of Ron Snowden)
“Okay, okay, where are you going with this, Dylan? Sure, there’s an all-Australasian World T20 final on the horizon but that game you’re referencing was a lifetime ago [less than two years, actually], in a different format, with vastly different personnel in vastly different conditions. And anyway, New Zealand hasn’t lost a test since then and have only drawn one [and would have won that one if it wasn’t for rain].
“So, I repeat, relevance?”
(End weird Ron Snowden voiceover)
The point of this is not to have you reaching for the Zoloft ahead of Monday morning’s final in Dubai, the scene of Matthew Wade’s heist this morning, but to illustrate and add context to the most fascinating aspect of this clash: Australia don’t rate the Black Caps.
They might talk in the language of peace and respect in the days leading up to the final, but deep down they just don’t.
While the rest of the world sees the mouse that roared and the little engine that could, Australia sees a mouse that squeaks and an e-scooter with a flat battery.
They see a team that came to the MCG in 2015 and flopped; they see a team that couldn’t get themselves up at home for Brendon McCullum’s final series a year later; they see a team that was “gifted” a Boxing Day Test and capitulated.
They see a team that came perilously close to throwing away a 2-0 T20 series lead against a below-strength Australian team in home conditions last season.
It’s why Australian test captain Tim Paine uttered his now-infamous “India will win pretty comfortably if they play anywhere near their best”, line ahead of the World Test Championship final. It was seen by some as a mark of disrespect but if you’re viewing it through Paine’s looking glass, what else would he say? It was no great leap of logic. It would have been incomprehensible to him that a team that came to Australia and won a series, could lose to a team that didn’t get within a bull’s roar (there are now multiple animals roaring in this post) of winning a single test in his backyard.
And, another thing, they could not give a flying fahk about the nice-guy way New Zealand plays the game.
If one could buy a ticket to dive deep into the Australian subconscious, you’d probably find they are delighted to be facing their neighbours in the final, on past experience believing them to be an inferior opponent to England.
New Zealand would have surely wanted this final, too. Because by now they know that when it comes to Australia you can’t earn respect, you have to win it.
We chat all the good semifinal stuff on another BYC World T20 special; plus I feel compelled to make a grovelling apology to Otago cricket, who have CD in their pocket these days.
THE WEEK THAT WAS
The Warriors made their first big signing of… 2023. The wheeze seems to be that Marata Niukore, 25, is a good backrower but $2.5m over four years is admittedly steep for a player they developed before losing him to the Eels. Twitter reviews of the deal have been mixed.
Congratulations to Lesley Murdoch, this week elected to vice-president of New Zealand Cricket. Much has been made of the need for prominent New Zealand sports organisations to become more diverse, to better reflect the communities they serve and to aim for equal gender splits on the boards. NZC’s president is Debbie Hockley, Murdoch is VP and four of the eight-person board is female so the national summer sport cannot be accused of not playing their part.
Seismic movements in the world of golf. Hot on the heels of the news that the Great White Shark Greg Norman has jumped in the water with the Saudis to set up an alternative tour, the European Tour has been rebranded the DP World Tour after Dubai’s global logistics company. The European Tour, sometimes referred to as the Old World Tour, has fallen on hard times recently and its players would have been obvious targets for Norman’s tour. To battle Middle Eastern money, the European tour has turned to Middle Eastern money. What a world we live in.
I sat down and had a chat with Radio New Zealand’s Emile Donovan for The Detail podcast, the title being “The rugby legacy no player wants”. It was recorded in the wake of Carl Hayman revealing he has been diagnosed, age 41, with early-onset dementia and probable CTE. (Click on the link to listen.)
If you’re tooling around The Detail, this episode from Sharon Brettkelly has just dropped telling the story of promising equestrian rider Ella Rutherford, who has had to quit the sport due to concussion.
Chris Cairns is battling back from a horrendous health setback. He chats to Andrew Alderson ($).
I love this description of Matthew Wade in Jarrod Kimber’s Sports Almanac.
“Matthew Wade is pretty hated by, well, kinda everyone that isn’t on his side. He sledges, and looks at people with disdain most of the time. And I remember one international cricketer telling me that he had no right being that aggressive when he was so shit.
“I mean, he’s not shit. But he’s also never been that good… Wade has been a survivor, first cancer in his teen years, then being the keeper who took the gloves from Haddin, then being the keeper who took the gloves from Haddin again. Then Australia threw him in with the bat when he seemed completely lost. His batting is kind of bruised and weird, and he seems to only play when they are desperate, out of ideas, or that one time it looked like they brought him back as a sledger.”
THE WEEKEND THAT WILL BE
The Italian job was woeful but it was only ever designed as an undercard event for the big two bouts, against Ireland and France. Beauden Barrett gets the nod at No 10 but it is a little further out where interest will be piqued. The midfield has been a clear area of concern, with all those who have played there having varying levels of issues. Anton Lienert-Brown and Rieko Ioane get a chance to establish a partnership.
Ireland v All Blacks, Dublin, Sunday 4.15am, Sky Sport 1
The Black Ferns have France in what will be another tough test on their return to international rugby. Despite being thumped twice by England, Portia Woodman saw some encouraging signs in the second test at Northampton. “The score didn't really reflect how I felt the game went for us. You know the English are good with their mauls, and if you take that away, we’re a pretty even side,” Woodman said. Unfortunately, the laws of rugby at this point state you can’t take away the maul.
France v Black Ferns, Pau, Sunday 3am, Sky Sport 2
If modern T20 cricket is a game of match-ups, then Devon Conway’s minor, yet hugely significant, fit of pique has done more than damaged his finger. New Zealand’s top order was already right-hand heavy and unless Mark Chapman has hidden wicketkeeping skills, Stead will be forced to insert another, Tim Seifert, into the lineup. It’s not all bad, obviously, Seifert is a talented player and a far better gloveman than Conway, but it might require some shuffling of the order, particularly if legspinner Adam Zampa is bowling.
New Zealand v Australia, World T20 final, Dubai, Monday 3am, Sky Sport 3
Even Lewis Hamilton is pegging the Brazilian GP as a must-win race if he wants to keep his title challenge alive. “The task is as steep as it can be. Their pace was phenomenal in the last race,” the seven-times world champ said of Red Bull and his championship rival Max Verstappen. It’s on a cracking track, too.
Brazilian GP, Interlagos, São Paulo, Monday 6am
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